Any relationship, no matter if it is personal or romantic, even professional, can be something difficult to keep it and maintaining it as pure as a bliss.

There’s a point on which any relationship starts to have some smell. It can be when you have few weeks or some months in the relationship. Maybe you will start feeling it after years. The thing is that when you reach this point in the relation you must be aware if anything must be fixed.

Imagine any relationship as a car, and when it breaks down you might get stuck on the side of the road wondering about the things that went wrong.

An expert eye knows when the car start to have any trouble. It might be a small sound or some strange vibration that you are feeling. The same can happen in any relationship, and if you learn a couple of things you can be your own mechanic.

Researchers from the University of Washington have done study on which they discovered four signs of relationship failure, named as “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”, a discovery so important that they now can predict the future success of any relationship with a 93% precision.

The study was conducted with married couples; researchers’ accuracy rate for expecting divorce was achieved by watching couples interact for over 14 years.

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

Researchers from Washington named their study as The Four Horsemen, which can reveal troubles in different kind of relationships. Each horseman represents the damaging acts that can make us be victims when the emotions overcome us.

With each Horseman, you should consider its importance in your relationship, and you must memorize that conflict itself is not an issue. As a matter of fact, conflicts are something normal and ideal that can be productive between two people who have different interests and needs when they are together.

Researchers at Washington discovered that many conflicts in relationships had no bearing on the prosperity between two persons. It is not about what is the conflict, but actually how is treated that defines a relationship’s success, keeping this in mind the Four Horsemen’s manifestation only mean that conflicts are not handled correctly or constructively.

Each Horseman is followed by a strategy to overcome it.

The 1st Horseman: Criticism

A lot of people confused criticism with constructive suggestions or feedback to help in the improvement of a person. When criticism appears it is not constructive at all, an example might be when a boss says to its employee “this report is horrible.”

The problem behind the criticism is that its focus on the person’s character, interests or personality instead on a specific behavior or actions that can be improved. Remember that being someone critic with another person without being constructive is a lot different than criticize someone for something that they can’t change.

Overcoming Criticism:

If you are planning to be constructive and instead you end criticizing the other person, you should plan ahead everything you want to say. You should think on each thing you are going to say and how, so you can follow your script correctly so you can avoid any criticism and be constructive.

Is recommended that you should focus your commentaries on a specific behavior when you go for multiple behaviors it can be perceived by the other person as criticism. If you feel that you can’t give any constructive commentary without treating other issues on the person’s personality, you are better if you don’t say anything.

The 2nd Horseman: Contempt

Contempt is a clear action of disrespect against another person. This often is followed by comments that search to put down the other person, and sometimes is only insults. Contempt has different indirect forms, like making insults wrapped in “humor” or rolling the eyes.

Overcoming Contempt:

Contempt appears when there is not any interest in the other person. When you realize that you do not enjoy the company of the other, it might be because the things that used to make him or her charming or interesting have lost their luster, suddenly contempt can appear.

If you find out that you are not interested anymore for the other and that the relationship has no place to go and you can’t end it (like work relationships), you should focus on handling the relationship itself. When someone manages the relationship correctly they can learn about the benefits of connecting with people, even when the others don’t like them.

You must search for something in common; this can be sought and esteemed. Remember the wise words of Abraham Lincoln, “I do not like that man. I must get to know him better.”

The 3rd Horseman: Defensiveness

When you start making excuses without taking any responsibility, following a complaint by another complaint it is only a form of defensiveness. This can be a problem because it blocks the conflicts to find any solution.

Defensiveness only works to boost the tension in the relationship and makes it really problematic to focus on the real problem that must be solved.

Overcoming Defensiveness:

The way you can defeat defensiveness is by listening carefully to the other person’s complaint, even if you don’t share the same perspective on the same issue you must have the will to hear the other person, even if you don’t agree with the other.

Try to focus on understanding the other person’s point of view so the two of you can work together on the issue and solve it. It’s important to be always calm, from the moment you realize why the other person is hurt, it will be easier to find a common place instead of avoiding their opinions defensively.

The 4th Horseman: Stonewalling

Stonewalling is one of the parts decides to shut down the discussion and not respond. The different forms of stonewalling are: being emotionally cold, giving the silent treatment, and ignoring the other one.

This is a problematic issue because it intensifies the conflict and prevents the two persons from working in the resolution of the problem.

Overcoming Stonewalling:

The way to solve stonewalling is by taking part in the argument. If you started to stonewalling the other person, because you are feeling overwhelmed you should explain to the other person how you feel and take some time before continuing the argument.

Maintain eye contact with the other person and an open posture, as also nodding your head so you can let the other person knowing that you are listening and taking part on the discussion when you don’t know what to say. If you are someone who commonly stonewalls, you must start participating in arguments so the both of them can solve conflicts and prevent your relationships from crumbling.

Photo Credit: kevinschmitz

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